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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 4, 2010 6:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: When did/does a band "peak"?

Now, for you old farts, yes, roll your eyes, mutter and accept it's Tell again, droning on about 1) it's not ALL subjective, and 2) earlier is better...

Can't quit, can I?

Seriously, though, was in another discussion about how much I like the first, sometimes second efforts (ie, albums) of so many bands, primarily from 60s and 70s, and it hit me: for so many bands, of course, all we "got" out of them is 2-3 yrs (side question: what is the ave "age" of a band? Do most only last 2-3 yrs?).

Thus, for the SF scene bands, think of how many were more or less GONE within 3 yrs certainly by today's fine TDIH show of the boys (10-4-70): MGrape, QMS, JAir, etc., etc (I know some just "changed" but you get the pt). Now add up all your favs; how many "peaked" on the first album--the one you love?

Of course, there are exceptions that "prove the rule" (bands don't live long; like all species on Earth, 99.99% of them are currently extinct): Beatles, Stones, Dead, NYoung, etc., but really, that's not the norm.

So, my whole pt, as usual, is to say: if for so many, like....ahem...CREAM, or MGrape, or THeads, or Police, or Phish, or BlTrav, or whomever, we say "ah, they were GREAT!" we are generally talking about within 1-3 yrs of their origins, right?

So, ergo, with the DEAD, how unusual is it to say, "nah, they really didn't peak til EIGHT yrs after they started!" (ie, 73, or whenever)?

Don't worry, I accept that it might be true for the DEAD; I don't want you to "give up" your view that they did in fact peak well after their origin, BUT I do think it would be exceptional. That's all...

One could easily counter argue that all my other, more numerous short lived bands WOULD'VE done even better, but I doubt it...I just think the statistical relationship shows that in general, just like the old age/genius/contributions relationship we discussed here so long ago (as pertaining to us bipedal, oversized cranial capacity hominids), bands really do typically start off with a bang, and go up some, but in general "die" shortly after (literally in some cases, figuratively in most), and one is hard pressed to pick one in which a peak is reached five yrs after they started...for example.

Are there any bands that 1) live long, and 2) prosper? Eueww, but I'd say perhaps the Who peaked five yrs post origins? Stones perhaps? Not so the Beatles, for me, or any of the others (Police, THeads, BlTrav, Phish, etc.; all within five yrs).

Is it only that the good die young, commercial viability wise? Or is this entire relationship more apparent (too many don't last) than real?

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Poster: Arbuthnot Date: Oct 4, 2010 8:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

i don't think it's possible to sustain a creative edge beyond perhaps 6 to 7 years, and the 'peak' is somewhere within that period of time.

that's not to say that a band/musician cannot continue to make 'good' music, but the value and relevance of what they are adding to the artform is seriously diminished, and likely not even necessary

i DO think that there are the rare few that can extend beyond the 6-7 year span, but not usually for R&R artists, mostly blues or jazz

i love Lou Reed, and listen to stuff from pretty much every year he's been performing/creating music, but i'd be deluding myself if for one moment i thought what he was doing post-'74/'75ish was at all relevant; not saying it isn't 'good', but he'd reached his peak by then, for sure (OK, 'New York' might be the odd man out)

peak for GD - 'LiveDead'
peak for JA - 'Baxters'
peak for Who - 'Quadrophenia'

but of course, we can go round and round on this, and someone will always point to what they perceive as exceptions to the rule, and that's fine, but generally speaking, i think you are correct WT, the peak comes early and the time-frame for artistic relevance i put at 6-7 years; cheers

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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

I guess I'd sum up by noting two things: again, as I was inarticulating (Rob?) above, I am struck by the flaw in my constant harping for most bands "early was best!" as it is a (potential) statistical artefact of the fact most bands die young.

Second, though, in response to good pts raised by MJ and BD, I would ask: how often do you hear "this band rocked in albums # 1 and # 2" vs "this band sucked until album penultimate" or some such?

In general, again, only "generally", I hear more folks inclined toward the former than the latter...but it don't mean it ain't necessarily so for your band, our band (DEAD) and others, etc.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 4, 2010 8:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

>how often do you hear "this band rocked in albums # 1 and # 2" vs "this band sucked until album penultimate" or some such?

Generally, I guess, they don't get the chance for more albums if they're that bad. Unless they're the Acoustic Waterboarding Kombo (aka AWK). So maybe there's still hope for Foreigner-Styx et al.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

So, then Paul Weller apparently has the right approach - form groups for a 6 to 7 year period and quit when they peak (always leave them wanting more...)

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Poster: amosearle Date: Oct 4, 2010 11:01am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Interesting topic. I thought the ROlling Stones should have given it up 20 years ago, but those who still listen to them say that their latest is really good. Was it worth waiting twicve the average lifespan of the average band for them to be good again? Not to me, and even if it's all propaganda, I haven't bothered to hear it.

I remember seeing CSNY in the Early 80's because I thought they were so great and wanted to see them "before it was too late". I enjoyed myself, but haven't given a second listen to just about anything of theirs since.

Creedence was sart, and more bands need to follow their example. They got in, got down, rocked out, and got out. They said what they had to say and moved on.

Peaking is different for everyone. It does beg the question of when to quit or move on.

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Poster: midnightcarousel Date: Oct 4, 2010 7:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

For me, the whole era 68-74 was one long continuous peak; I really like it all pretty equally. So I might say they peaked early on in their career, but I just think the peak lasted longer than a single year or whatever. In some ways, they got better and better, but of course that depends on your perspective; they lost a little of their acerbic terseness in exchange for a more open jazziness, and I think that exchange happened gradually over the course of those six years (they were still really intense in '72!).

There's some amount of artificiality to the above explanation; the main problem being that we can't really describe anything about their career without resorting to generalizations that never really apply. But that's the way I've framed it in my head, and it seems to fit as well as any other theory I've heard of or come up with.

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Poster: buscameby Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

I think the Boys had a couple of peaks because they were kind of 3 or 4 bands actually. The name remained the same but the line up and therefore the music changed a lot to me.

I have listened to much of the 60's and 70's since the flood gates opened here and got a real taste of what they were capable of from more than "Live Dead" and the studio releases.

I did get to experience the late 70's, 80's and 90's, to much of the 90's after listening to the older stuff-lol. We had decent tapes of the 80's and 90's too for the most part.

My humble opinion is the late 68-69 psychedelics were peaking and then the 73-74 K&D jazz period had its own peaks. The late 60's was more raw power and the 73-74 period was melodic and beautiful.

I still loved the Band in all era's but the last 15 years were mostly going through the motions and nostalgic in comparison. But since that's what I was around to hear I wouldn't trade but a few moments of ugliness during Jerry's addiction and indulgence of Vince's material.

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Poster: high flow Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

I have long held this theory: A band forms and plays the clubs for years developing chops and material. If they succeed, they get signed to a record deal. Often times this means 2-10 years of hard work come to fruition on the FIRST album. Years of hard work and song development......

Then the Label demands a new album every 18 months. How can these records match the level of the 1st effort? It takes a miracle.

The bands who toil for close to a decade before "making it" might have material for more than 1 album. But, even in that case, it is likely their "B" stuff. Right?

Of course there are exceptions to the rule.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 4, 2010 10:23am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Works for many, except for those that formed with experienced musical sorts, ya know? Meaning, of course, CREAM, but even the DEAD, many others, formed of individuals that had done what you describe more or less "on their own" (Led Zep's another) for yrs and yrs.

So, thus far, we have multiple explanations for the "peaked early phenomenon"...but in general, fewer for "better with age" I suppose (not saying they aren't there, just by defn not as common, again, if nothing other than statistical artefact discussed above).

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Poster: high flow Date: Oct 4, 2010 11:25am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

IMO many bands perform better with age. There is little doubt.

But when it comes to writing songs, it's hard to imagine any band being as good from a comfy mansion as they were when they were writing to survive.

Does that make sense?

The GD don't really fit because they relied on Hunter and Barlow. We know that Hunter was still writing to survive even after many of his songs were made famous by GD.

As for Cream, despite the earlier successes of the members, there is still that initial chemistry which wears away over time. Call it a honeymoon period or music's 7-year-itch, but either way there is a reason these guys split. My guess is the lack of drive and creative spark among the members.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 4, 2010 11:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

It makes perfect sense, except you keep adding fuel to my fire which is the opposite: for many reasons, some apparent, some real, bands peak early, then fade, to varying degrees...peak might be 3 yrs, 5 yrs, but it's not usually "half way pt" if they last, say, 25 yrs?

But, it's old ground; I am impressed that so many old farts do NOT like the idea that things get worse with age! Not saying that's the motivation, but....har, har.

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Poster: Styrofoam Cueball Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:01pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

It seems that bands tend to burn out/peak faster than solo musicians. The longest-lived acts are people like Dylan (multiple peaks), Joni Mitchell, Neil Y., etc... It's hard to break up with yourself, I suppose.

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Poster: snori Date: Oct 4, 2010 2:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Very true High Flow. And I guess you're thinking like me 'back in the day'. Consider nowadays a band has to come up with a release that is twice as long as Sgt Pepper, plus (for extra pressure) they are now in debt to the record company and it must be damn tough to avoid draining all creativity before the 'peak' is even visible.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

I don't think that's a theory insomuch as I think that's precisely right - bands generally play for years and create a bunch of material that gets culled through for the first release or two. If the sound is "new" or "different", it's hard for them to reinvent the wheel. Then again, there is the dreaded sophmore slump...

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Poster: BornEasement Date: Oct 4, 2010 8:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

DYLAN! sure he had a few weak moments in the eighties (down in the groove?) and a few poor showings here and there in otehr eras (Christmas? Self portrait?) but hes been able to consistently write good music since time out of mind (1998).

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Poster: Mandojammer Date: Oct 4, 2010 8:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

How do you peak if you are continuously evolving?

'68-'69 Dead is completely different from '72-'73 or '77 and all three are outstanding in their own right.

Hell, there was some pretty good stuff in spring '90 and a HTH with '68 could lead the casual external observer to conclude they were listening to different bands altogether.

Was this a trick question or have I had too much/not enough coffee?

This post was modified by Mandojammer on 2010-10-04 15:37:06

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Oct 4, 2010 8:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

"Are there any bands that 1) live long, and 2) prosper?"

Currently, I think Wilco continues to evolve and prosper, but I'll grant that part of that is the addition of Nels Cline (and others, like JOTS, tend to disagree with that).

I think Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (if you include Mudcrutch, which I do) are playing the best music of their entire career the past two to three years. I include Tom as a triumvirate with Benmonth Tench and Mike Campbell.

Pearl Jam is celebrating their 20th anniversary at the Bridge School Benefit - the mass media overlooks them, but if you listen to their latest few releases, and especially if you catch them live, that is not a band that is stuck playing all of "Ten" and "Vs" in concert every night.

Would you say that Neil and Crazy Horse were stuck in a rut and didn't grow because Ragged Glory is not the same as Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere?

FWIW, I think T-Head's last album, Naked, is one of their best.

I don't always like where they end up, but I admire Radiohead for the way they keep evolving. Live, they can crush.

Dig, Lazarus, Dig is one of the best things Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have ever done and Nick keeps it weird with Grinderman (Nov 29th at the Warfield; just 16 days after DEVO).

In short, I don't necessarily buy what you're selling.


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Poster: Mandojammer Date: Oct 4, 2010 8:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Your post got me to thinking....

How about Rush? They came through Va Beach year ago and other than being a little grayer and fatter (who isn't) they pretty much destroyed their show. Neil Pert was a beast!!

And I'm not talking about a shortened set of hits - it was a full 2.5 - 3 hour show. Contrast that with the Kansas-Journey-Chicago-Styx-Foreigner combo shows where each band comes out, sings two or three songs then gets taken off the stage in their wheelchairs for oxygen and defibrillation.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:13am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Until Jon Anderson's recent vocal issues, the same could be said of Yes. Then again, I'm not sure that either of those bands (Yes and Rush) are still putting out compelling new music, while I think the ones I cited are still releasing good new music. I am ready to be flamed by Rush fans...

I know many people here hate U2, and often for good reason, but that's a band that keeps on trying to reinvent itself (with varying degrees of sucess). I certainly like that triumvirate of Achtung Baby, Zooropa, (and will include Passengers - Eno), and Pop better than anything in their earlier career.

Know it's not a band, but same Berlin studio/producer (the masterful Eno) gave Bowie that triumivrate of Low/Heroes/Scary Monsters - well after Hunky Dory glory.

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Poster: Mandojammer Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

So the question now evolves to a matter of a band's staying power vs innovation/new material.

Rush didn't do anything new - but they sure as heck kicked the snot out of what they played.

We could probably divide the conversation into multiple camps - peaking as defined by innovation, evolving sound, new material or peaking as in 'when they played what they played' the best?

My head now hurts.....

I would throw Pat Metheny in as another 5 CEP outlier. Constantly innovating his music and approaches, but peaking with just about everything he does. Can't wait to see where/when his Orchestrion Tour comes closest to Va Beach as a road trip will be in order.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

>Kansas-Journey-Chicago-Styx-Foreigner combo shows

Is that a form of torture, or what?

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Poster: Mandojammer Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:25am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Having been to their concerts back in the day when each was a solo headliner it was agonizing to watch.

Acoustic waterboarding......

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Why did you go? Just being nosy I guess.

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Poster: Mandojammer Date: Oct 4, 2010 10:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Not nosy, fair question. I should have added the amplifying info - wife was/is a huge Steve Perry fan - hence Journey. When we saw Styx and Foreigner were also going to play we expected we were going to hear what remembered from back when we were in high school.

We did not and have no intention of going back to see one of the combo shows again.

I contrast that against what we saw when we went to the Tears For Fears show recently at the NORVA. It was sold out - almost 1500 people. They had mats on the floor in case the old folks fell so we wouldn't break a hip. They played what you expected they would have played. At one point Roland Orzabal quipped - "It's not like we are known for being an 80s classics band..............wait, yes we are." It was a fantastic, if short, show. They delivered what we both expected and were looking for.

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Oct 4, 2010 12:44pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

"They had mats on the floor in case the old folks fell so we wouldn't break a hip."

LMAO. I actually saw a full Journey concert in the 70's and they were pretty good for what they did - I liked the songs and Neil Schon was a heck of a guitar gunslinger. Bryan Adams opened - he had one hit - Summer of '69.


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Poster: snori Date: Oct 4, 2010 2:54pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Very cruel and unusual punishment.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Oct 4, 2010 6:50pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

holy hell!

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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 4, 2010 10:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

"70s Butt Rock" a derisive term coined by my sons HS friends in the early 2000s for those sorts of bands I hated...they did too apparently.

Well, okay, have no idea if they invented the term, but I loved it.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 4, 2010 8:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

So in essence, the view is biased by the "early death" of so many bands? IE, it is a truism (my theory) if only because whatever the % is, most bands are gone within five yrs of their origins (right? I think that's a truism).

But, with your counter examples, if they tally to 10 (20?) of the 100s of bands you like, score the first 100 you can think of for "first album > last album" and I think you'll concede defeat...

OK, was that too much homework? Maybe so...I dunno--for me it is very much the case, esp if I expand it to "first two albums vs last two albums" for a band that lasted five yrs. Hell, I guess we'd even say that's true for the DEAD (First + Aox > whatever the last two are called?).

In the end, all I am getting at is that there is a problem with my thesis that "early is better" in general since "later" is often missing. Doesn't that make sense?

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Oct 4, 2010 8:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Tell, you've earned the right to drone on...

I support your general idea- most bands explode onto the scene, have one or two hits, if they're any good maybe have 2-3 good albums, and rest on their laurels, gradually fading away. From a non-Deadhead p.o.v., the GD did not exist from from 65-69. They made their first real national splashes with WD and AB, but as we know they're not a top 40, hit-making band. Their longevity is just one thing that makes them unique, with their biggest airplay coming from Touch and to a lesser extent, Alabama Getaway 15 years after they started. That's unusual, yes!

I'm sure others will come up with more, but the only bands i can think of with approximate career arcs (as you suggest Stones, Who, maybe Led Zep) might be U2, Allman Bros., and Dylan, although his career is noteworthy for its initial earthquake on the music scene. That old fart Eric Clapton just released another album too.

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Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Oct 4, 2010 10:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

hard to say when a band peaks, great record sales, radio rotation and of course touring. But clearly a band is done and has jumped the shark is when there's more of a shadow band then the original members. Case in point ,one band I alwasys wanted to see was THE MOODY BLUES and last year I got my chance. Only 3 original guys and the rest about 5 more were pro filler types. The only band that pulled this off was the Beach Boys ,not known for being great musicians but for being the best vocalists around. They were so good on the DOG SHOW in OAKLAND Bill Graham gave them 15-20 more minutes of playing time....LW

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Oct 4, 2010 9:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Well geez WT - what a way to start Monday. I tend to agree with you for a very specific reason. I think people come into this world with certain gifts bestowed on them by their God/Universe/soul/blah and therefore their greatest success is at the beginning when all of it is starting to come out. It's really hard to maintain that level whether it be music, art, literature, science. I believe that anyone cranking out hot stuff in their 50's or 60's came in that way and haven't fucked up somehow. There aren't many.

Now off to work.

As for the Dead, I thinked they peaked as song writers early on, but musically, they continued to evolve and grow due to their own growth and add-ons (think Keith). Where they stopped is the crux of lots of 'discussions' around here.

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Poster: madmonkmcphee Date: Oct 4, 2010 8:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

Great discussion topic. In my experience playing in bands it takes 6 months to a year to learn how to communicate musically with other members so it makes sense that most bands peak 1-3 years after forming. However, the addition/subtraction of just one member can change things radically. Music is a form of language

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Poster: spring mountain high Date: Oct 5, 2010 6:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

about 2 hours after they drop

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Poster: Ole Uncle John Date: Oct 6, 2010 2:35pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: When did/does a band 'peak'?

The Good Ole' Grateful Dead may have had more peaks than most.

'69 was a peak as was 72,73,74 and 77.

Hell they were definitely unique in the heights they surmounted and the periods in which thy excelled.